Almost Firefox

Almost, but not quite.

I almost switched from Safari to the Mozilla Firefox web browser over the weekend. Firefox is coming along nicely, and some of the extensions are incredibly helpful. I use the browser all the time, and for a brief period this weekend had switched the system default over to Firefox.

First of all, the thing that made me switch back to Safari was Firefox’s lack of spell checking capability in web forms. I’m sure that it’ll get implemented eventually. Scribe is a nice Firefox extension that has plans to add this feature in the future. There are hacks that seem to work out there, but they’re not quite ready for lazy bastards like myself. As soon as someone can implement this, I’ll try switching back. I do too much impromptu typing in form fields and I’m rather addicted to Safari’s inline spell checking – I need my crutch!

Well that’s not the only reason – there are a few keyboard shortcuts that I’m fond of in Safari that are missing in Firefox, like switching tabs with Command+Shift+(Left/Right) Arrow. And a few rough edges still lurking here and there. Nothing major mind you, but it was just enough for me to decide it wasn’t there yet and wait for the next release to try again.

What I do love about Firefox is it’s extensibility. Stuff like the totally awesome Web Developer Extension which has made my life a lot easier already, the Sage extension for reading RSS and Atom feeds, and the essential Venkman JavaScript Debugger. These goodies already have me using Firefox at least part time on my Mac. On my Windows XP box, Firefox has already become the default.

Another thing I appreciate about Firefox is it’s use of standardized form element styling behavior. As much as I enjoy the camp and shameless branding exercise of having all my menus and form buttons appear in Aqua, it’s a forced, tired, and overdone look. There are some CSS2 provisions for styling form elements, which Safari politely ignores. I say, keep the aqua flavors to the menu widgets, but let me at least color the button with a cherry red background and lime green text for my holiday greetings, thank you!.

And while I’m wishing, it would be nice in Safari to implement that Undo command for form typing sometime.

On the other hand, Safari does support my favorite CSS2 eye candy, namely text-shadow. Plop this together with being able to style my form menus and buttons in Aqua using CSS2 and we have a sexy browser!

The last thing I’ll say about Safari vs. Firefox is that Firefox’s handling of JavaScript is significantly faster than Safari’s implementation, as of this writing. However, the rumor mill seems to indicate that this situation may change soon enough.

Well, it’s nice to have choices. Heck, it’s nice not to have to use Micro$oft Intermittent Exploder as my forced default browser/file system/security hole! With just a bit more spit and polish, Firefox stands to be a very compelling web browser. Sure, the name is a bit hard to get used to, but heck – there’s even an extension for that problem. And judging from the plans in store for Safari, it will probably be a toss-up for me for the foreseeable future. And that’s a Good Thing™